Carlo Capasa

MILAN — Showing a united front is a priority, Carlo Capasa, president of Italy’s Camera della Moda, told WWD on Saturday morning.

“The system is coordinated and the message is one, without barriers, to defend jobs, and we want to convey a realistic message,” he said, referring to the changes in show calendars made globally on Friday.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the Camera late Friday said the spring 2021 men’s shows and presentations slated for June 19 to 23 would run in September during Milan Fashion Week women’s, which is expected to start on Sept. 22 and end on Sept. 28.

The news came only minutes after the Fédération Haute Couture et de la Mode revealed it was canceling Paris Fashion Week Men’s and the Paris Couture scheduled for late June and early July, respectively. The French group said it was working on new dates for those shows. Also on Friday, the Council of Fashion Designers of America said New York Fashion Week resort 2021 would be canceled, and New York Fashion Week: Men’s, originally slated for June, was postponed. The British Fashion Council is working to come up with a virtual alternative to its men’s shows, originally planned for June as well.

“Our industry is like a beating heart, it can slow down but it can’t be stopped or it will never recover,” said Capasa.

To this end, skipping a season is out of the question, as it would impact and damage the Italian system, the web of suppliers and producers in the country, mainly made up of small and medium-sized companies. “They would not survive, it would be an epochal disaster and it would not be a loss only for Italy — it’s a global patrimony,” he noted, referring to Italy’s production for brands around the world. “Whatever it costs, we must save the jobs, we can’t stop.

“We are in a health emergency and of course, first and foremost we hope that things will evolve in a positive way and that manufacturing plants will be able to reopen,” said Capasa, referring to nonessential activities being closed until April 3 here. The goal is to present men’s and women’s pre-collections in a virtual format in June, on business-to-business or business-to-consumer platforms.

“We have 800 showrooms and 3,000 collections, and we hope that the collections can be produced, even smaller and limited, but they must be made and somehow presented,” said Capasa, noting that smaller brands would depend on this. Established companies can rely on their retail chains and can handle the situation, but smaller brands that work with the wholesale channel need to be supported, he argued.

“We must keep the energy alive. These would be four days to restart, as a community, psychologically, emotionally, interacting with others, building a bridge of solidarity,” said Capasa. Hopefully, he added, showrooms will be able to physically be open in July. The country has been in lockdown since March 9.

In the fall, the system would go on and produce the spring collection, even partially, he added.

As for the September fashion week in Milan, Capasa said the association is working on new digital formats and new ways to meet. “The men’s and women’s collections shown together is a nice message as a sign of a restarting,” he said, adding that he would be favorable if “some parts of design” were to be presented. As reported on Friday, the furniture and interior design Salone del Mobile fair will skip 2020 and go directly to its 60th annual edition, taking place from April 13 to 18, 2021.

Asked about the format of the week, Capasa said the Camera is “leaving freedom to the fashion houses, to present as they wish, it can be an interview with a story or showing clothes on a b-to-b platform or presenting it to buyers. We as the Camera act as a vehicle.”

Capasa also spoke of a likely post-COVID-19 scenario. “Customers will gravitate toward high-quality, long-lasting products, and sustainability will be even more important, so Italy’s artisanal, quality production must be defended at all costs. We are learning from this experience and people will understand more the value of things, keeping clothes that you don’t throw away after three washes, that can be passed on to future generations.”

He remembered how the Green Carpet Legacy Award was bestowed last September to Valentino Garavani, “recognizing the enduring value of his clothes, displayed in museums. There will be more consciousness of beauty that lasts.”

Asked if he envisioned possibly holding another Green Carpet Fashion Awards ceremony together with Eco-Age in September, he said “we continue to work on it, and as usual we started planning it at the end of the last edition. It would be a beautiful moment to celebrate a restart, it would be the most important one.”

Meanwhile, on Saturday Pitti Immagine’s chief executive officer Raffaello Napoleone said the organization “over the past few weeks was set on confirming” Pitti Uomo in June, “as a sign of determination and will work to maintain firm points of reference for the market,” while following the evolution of the coronavirus emergency and the government’s restrictions, including outside Italy.

The recent announcements that essentially cancel the June shows and the “explicit” indications by the Camera della Moda are clearly elements of relevance, continued Napoleone. In accordance with president Claudio Marenzi and the presidency of the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana, Pitti Immagine will evaluate the information available and make a decision during the board meeting slated at the end of next week, he concluded.

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